Bible Archaeology

No Room for the Dead on the Mount of Olives


For the past 3,000 years, Jewish families have been bringing their dead to the Mount of Olives cemetery.

A maze of hillside tombs, this graveyard is the holiest place for those in the Jewish faith to be laid to rest.

Many Jews believe that when the Messiah comes to Earth riding on a white donkey, the dead will rise from their graves and walk to the holy Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City.

From the Mount of Olives cemetery, that’s only a few hundred metres.

“Everyone in that cemetery is buried with their feet facing the Temple Mount so they come straight up and don’t even have to turn around. No one is going to get confused on the walk,” said Ira Rappaport, 67, who moved from New York to Israel 41 years ago and whose parents are buried in the cemetery.

“Some Jews also believe in a mystic interpretation of the scriptures that the dead roll over in the grave to get rid of their sins,” Rappaport said. “But because the land at the Mount of Olives is so pure, you don’t have to worry about that.”

Authorities have identified more than 150,000 burials here — the cemetery has been used for more than 3,000 years so there are surely other undiscovered plots — but administrators say new plots are becoming scarce.

In as few as 10 years, there will be no room for new graves, said Chananya Shachor, manager of the Jerusalem Burial Society, the largest of 13 societies that arrange funerals.

The rest of the article gives some more history and gives the price of a plot. It is interesting that the author connects the resurrection with Zechariah 9 and the Messiah on the donkey and not Zechariah 14 where the Lord lands on the Mount of Olives to save Jerusalem…

Mount of Olives aerial from southeast, bb00030046

Cemetery on the Mount of Olives.     


2 thoughts on “No Room for the Dead on the Mount of Olives

  1. Uh-oh. This may be a sign that the End is Near (just kidding, the End is always near.)

    One solution for these fine folks is the same for certain places with a high water table like New Orleans or crowded places like Manila- peoples’ graves get stacked on each other. Unless that’s against the Jewish faith or something. Then, they’ve gotta find some other way.

    I do remember the practice of placing bones from graves into ossuaries, when the corpse had undergone decomposition, thus giving new space for new dead. I wonder if that’s still being practiced in Jerusalem?

Post a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s